UF’s own Dr. Julie Levy has been presented with the 2017 Avanzino Leadership Award by Maddie’s Fund®, a national family foundation established by Dave and Cheryl Duffield to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals.
The award, given for “outstanding leadership and significant achievements in lifesaving,” is named after legenday no-kill leader and past Maddie’s Fund President Rich Avanzino.
In the Maddie’s Fund announcement of the award, Dr. Laurie Peek of the Maddie’s Fund Executive Leadership Team said, “Dr. Julie Levy embodies these qualities in the work she has accomplished – and continues to accomplish – towards lifesaving solutions over her entire career. We received an overwhelming number of submissions and it was an honor to read about so many deserving contributors within our field.It was a tough decision, however, Dr. Levy was the standout choice for 2017.”
“The Avanzino Leadership award came as a complete surprise and warmed my heart to be recognized in such a way,” Dr. Levy said. “I first met Rich when I was a veterinary student in the 1980s and he was the director of the SF SPCA. That was before he led his shelter’s transformation to end the euthanasia of healthy and treatable pets. I’ve been a longtime observer of that change process and watched it catch on as a new national norm. What a long way we have all come.”
In addition to her professorship in the Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at UF and her influence on students all over the U.S. and globally, Dr. Levy has been a leader in advancing the science and well-being of community cats. She’s a pioneer in the field of shelter medicine, author or co-author of more than 100 journal articles and textbook chapters, and is a co-founder of the Million Cat Challenge., a shelter-based campaign to save the lives of one million cats in North America over a five-year period.)
Other awards she has received include the Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ Meritorious Service Award, the Carl J. Norden-Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award, Outstanding Woman Veterinarian of the Year, and the European Society of Feline Medicine Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Feline Medicine.
“Her early work with feral cats was a massive undertaking,” said Dr. Peek in a statement on the Maddie’s Fund website. “She went against the grain with her colleagues to help reshape feral cats’ image for the better. Dr. Levy strategically leverages things to make a greater impact, while at the same time teaching others and providing research to find new ways to get the job done. She’s not afraid of going up against traditional ways of doing things when there’s another way to do it that has a lifesaving, life preserving and life respecting approach.”
Dr. Peek also called out the UF Shelter Medicine Program, which was started by Dr. Levy and Dr. Cynda Crawford in 2008, with funding from Maddie’s Fund. “The program has truly helped advance the field and its credibility, and has trained numerous veterinary students, interns, and residents which has resulted in an unquantifiable amount of lifesaving in shelters across the U.S…. She’s the kind of person that looks beyond herself and sees what everyone else has to offer; then leverages the strengths of everybody without giving much attention to herself. She’s that level 5 leader from Good to Great.”
Congratulations, Dr. Levy, from all of us at the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at UF!